Calling officer no. 7: North Bend adds extra Snoqualmie police officer

No matter how they felt about North Bend's August decision to contract with Snoqualmie for police services, both cities' law enforcement leaders were pleased with the outcome of the city council's Oct. 2 vote.

In another split decision, the North Bend City Council committed to hiring a seventh officer under the Snoqualmie contract. The decision, at a cost of $143,000, will give the city one additional officer for patrols, special emphasis, or community-oriented policing projects, beyond the six officers specified for round-the-clock coverage in the original agreement.

"It was great news," said Snoqualmie Police Captain Nick Almquist. "We are looking forward to enhancing what we can do for North Bend, and with the staffing at six, we were kind of tied to 'that's all we can do without being more selective.' When we can add that seventh officer, and maybe more later, we can be selective, and ... use that resource based on the dynamics in North Bend."

Sergeant Mark Toner, North Bend's Police Chief under its contract with the King County Sheriff's Office, said he was relieved that an officer was added, since that structure would more closely match the city's current coverage. However, he said, the addition made the Snoqualmie contract more expensive than the last KCSO offer.

Several council members didn't agree, commenting during the discussion that even after the cost of the seventh officer, the city would still have significant savings from the cost of the sheriff's contract.

The Snoqualmie contract will take effect March 8, 2014. To be fully staffed by then, Almquist said, his department would begin recruiting in earnest by next May. He hopes to make "lateral" hires, bringing in experienced officers from other departments, rather than entry-level hires, which take significantly longer to train and equip.

Because of the department's training capacity, only three or four recruits can be hired at a time, Almquist said. He guessed the new officers would be hired in two phases, in November, 2013 and again in January.


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